19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 1883-1885: Beja Camel riders completed

by Mitch on January 25, 2012 0 Comments

I haven't been able to paint at all lately as I have been in Abu Dhabi but I managed to finish my last four camel mounted Beja for the battles of 2nd El Teb and Tamai today. At my chosen ratio of 1:33 I need 18 mounted fugures to represent the forces involved and here they are. I won't need any more of these just the odd figure to use as a standard bearer for my infantry units. In fact the Beja cavalry was spread around the army in smaller units but if I reflect that organisation then we would only have units of two figures so, for wargaming purposes, I am going to use them as a "big wing" (or maybe two).

via 19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 1883-1885: Beja Camel riders completed.

19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 1883-1885: Another Sudan Wargame...

by Mitch on January 25, 2012 0 Comments

The British patrol on the left had to reach the outpost in the centre

Well, almost exactly one year after my last wargame I was back at Guildford having another Sudan game organised by Keith and joined, this time, by Matt and Alastair, authentically commanding the Black Watch.

This time we used a set of rules I hadn't come across before called Flying Lead. These are a semi-skirmish set which allow for either unit or individual movement. All actions are dice activated and contain a high element of chance as whilst each individual or group can throw up to three activation dice if you fail to meet the activation level of your troop types on the majority of your dice (eg: only get one out of three) then your turn finishes (even if you have only moved one person) and the other side gets their go.

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19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 1883-1885

by Mitch on January 25, 2012 0 Comments

The British Outpost - lovely model!

It's over three years since I started this blog and my interest has, as ever, waxed and waned somewhat. However, I still regard this as my main period so was delighted to actually get a game in for the first time at Guildford on Monday. This was down to Keith at the club who suggested a game as he has some Sudan War figures (some very nicely painted Camel Corps made an appearance) too.

We decided to use The Sword and the Flame which I had played once before about four years ago and Keith had never played. There was, as a result, a lot of rulebook consulting which, hopefully, next time won't happen quite so much.

via 19th Century Sudan Wargames Armies 1883-1885.

Major General Sir (John) Frederick Maurice, (1841–1912)

by Mitch on January 22, 2012 0 Comments

A member of the Ashanti Ring, Major General Sir (John) Frederick Maurice was a highly talented but controversial military intellectual, theorist, historian, editor, and educator. He was also Field Marshal Viscount Garnet J. Wolseley’s “lifelong friend, apologist and amanuensis” (Preston 1967, p. 244).


Maurice, born on 24 May 1841, was the eldest son of the social reformer Frederick Denison Maurice. He was educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1862. After postings in England, Scotland, and Ireland, Maurice entered the Staff College in 1870. While in attendance and in the wake of the Franco- Prussian War (1870–1871), he learned the Second Duke of Wellington was sponsoring an essay contest on “The System of Field Manoeuvres Best Adapted for Enabling Our Troops to Meet a Continental Army,” with £100 for first prize. Maurice won the essay contest, defeating another entrant— Wolseley — whom ...

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Madras Army

by Mitch on January 22, 2012 0 Comments

The 1st Madras Pioneers, c. 1890

The Queen's Own Madras Sappers and Miners, Review Order 1896.


The Madras Army, established by the East India Company, was one of the three presidency armies in India. The other two armies were the Bengal Army and the Bombay Army, and all three were abolished in 1895 and replaced by a single Indian Army.


There were European companies in the Madras Army from an early period, and it is known that there were three in 1742 and seven in 1748, when they were formed into a single regiment. In 1824, the Madras Army consisted of two European infantry battalions , fifty-two Madras Native Infantry battalions, three irregular infantry battalions, three light cavalry regiments, one European and one native artillery brigade, three battalions (of four companies each) of foot artillery, and two pioneer corps.


The Madras Army soldiers showed exceptional discipline and loyalty throughout the ...

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The Malayan Emergency – Last Colonial Victory?

by Mitch on January 14, 2012 0 Comments

Members of B Company 2 RAR about to go on a patrol in Perak in 1956. A Daimler Ferret armoured car has accompanied the patrol to its setting-off point in a rubber plantation. The patrol is responding to reports of communist guerrillas in the nearby jungle. Patrolling in search of guerrillas was the main task of the Australian Army during the Malayan Emergency. [AWM HOB/56/0751/MC]

In June 1948 a state of emergency was proclaimed in Malaya in response to Communist guerrilla activity. Problems had been developing for a considerable time. The British had imported Chinese and Indian labour to work in the tin mines and rubber plantations. They became a majority of the population – a fact deeply resented by Malays. The Chinese had suffered high unemployment in the 1930s, and had then been victimised by the Japanese after their conquest of Malaya. The Malayan Communist Party was ...

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Book Review: Empire, Politics and the Creation of the 1935 India Act.

by Mitch on January 12, 2012 0 Comments

Andrew Muldoon. Empire, Politics and the Creation of the 1935 India Act. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. viii + 278 pp. $99.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7546-6705-6.

Reviewed by Brandon D. Marsh (Bridgewater College)
Published on H-Albion (June, 2011)
Commissioned by Thomas Hajkowski

Wishful Thinking

In May 1930, the Indian government’s foreign secretary, Evelyn Howell, authored a report on the nationalist uprising that had recently broken out in India’s North-West Frontier Province. Howell’s central concern was why the local administration had been so completely unaware of the depth of nationalist feeling in the months preceding the uprising. After studying scores of fortnightly reports he came to a simple conclusion: wishful thinking. Despite growing evidence for a powerful and well-organized nationalist movement, the local administration, sure that they knew the “real India” had shown “a marked tendency towards optimism whenever any favourable circumstance occurs, and to drift on, clutching at straws.”[1 ...

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The Empire Loses Burma

by Mitch on January 12, 2012 0 Comments

Geography of Burma

Even American aid, in the shape of General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell’s Chinese armies and General Claire Chennault’s “Flying Tigers,” could not stem the simultaneous Japanese advance in Burma. Once again the British retreat had all the characteristics of a rout. And as in Malaya, it had a fatal impact on the standing of the colonial power. The Governor, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, who had to leave behind his large collection of top hats, said that the British would never be able to hold up their heads in Burma again. For they could neither defend themselves against Japanese infiltration nor protect the civilian population from ground and airborne assault. Early in April 1942, for example, a heavy raid almost obliterated Mandalay. The first strike destroyed the Upper Burma Club, where a luncheon party was taking place. Bombs killed hundreds of people, blowing some of them into the ...

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by Mitch on January 12, 2012 0 Comments

In Entente counsels what militated against evacuation from Gallipoli was not the effects within Turkey but the wider political ramifications within the Muslim world. In Mesopotamia, too, the British forces had overreached themselves. Easy victories at the outset had spurred on the ambitions of Sir John Nixon, the commander on the spot. Grandiose notions of a converging movement linking with the Russians coming down through Persia and Azerbaijan did not help. But the real difficulty was that Nixon was not subject to firm direction. In London, the general staff at the War Office was cautious, anxious not to overcommit itself so far from the main theatre of operations in Europe. But the campaign was less the responsibility of the War Office and more that of the Government of India: it provided the bulk of the troops. Indian official opinion was divided. On the one hand, it was attracted to control ...

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First World War in Africa

by Mitch on January 12, 2012 0 Comments

The First World War broke out in Europe in 1914, which brought Britain, France, and Russia into open conflict with Germany and Austria-Hungary until 1918. Still in the early years of European rule, African countries were drawn into the war by their colonial masters, who required African resources of men, money, and raw materials. The struggle between the European powers over control in Africa was also one of the causes of the war, with rivalry over African possessions complicating longstanding conflicts in Europe.

Each Allied power took steps to protect its colonies, strengthening defenses against possible German attack. When victories over the Germans in their African colonies became certain, these security measures were relaxed. It then became necessary to ensure the loyalty of African subjects, if only to prevent them from supporting Germany, and by and large propaganda was used successfully to this end. Even so, troops had to be ...

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by Mitch on January 5, 2012 0 Comments

Angola, named after the ancient Mbundu state of Ngola, is the seventh largest country in Africa, with a total area of 1,246,700 square kilometers. It is bordered by Namibia, Zambia, Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo. By 2000 it had an estimated population of 13.1 million, divided into several ethnic groups, the most populous being the Ovimbundu (37 percent), Kimbundu (25 percent), and Bakongo (13 percent). Afro-Portuguese and Europeans respectively constituted roughly 2 and 1 percent of the population. The main livelihood for 85 percent of the population was still agriculture, which accounted for only 12 percent of the gross domestic product. The principal exports were petroleum and diamonds, while other exports included fish, timber, sugarcane, coffee, cotton, and sisal. Although rich in natural resources, Angola’s economy was in disarray due the continuous warfare that has plagued the country from 1961.


Angola’s history in the ...

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by Mitch on January 5, 2012 0 Comments

By the late eighteenth century, the Portuguese had managed to retain in Africa only the small colonies of Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Princípe in West Africa and the much more extensive but largely undeveloped colonies of Angola and Mozambique in southern Africa. During the Napoleonic era, the governance of Portugal again became very unsettled, and from 1808 to 1821 the royal family even transferred its seat of power to Brazil, Portugal’s largest overseas colony. Then, after Brazil achieved independence in 1822, the Portuguese began to concentrate on developing their colonies in southern Africa, in large part to protect their claims in the face of the escalating competition to carve up the African interior into European colonies. In fact, at the Berlin Conference (1884–1885), the major European colonial powers insisted that Portugal demonstrate that it actually controlled the interiors of Angola and Mozambique.


For the next ...

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CHRONOLOGY - China in the Era of Imperialism

by Mitch on January 2, 2012 0 Comments

Total Humiliation.

Whereas China had persevered in hiding behind the grandeur of its past, Japan had embraced the West, modernizing itself politically, militarily, and culturally. China’s humiliation at the hands of its newly imperialist neighbor is evident in this scene, where the differences in dress and body posture of the officials negotiating the treaty after the war reflect China’s disastrous 1895 defeat by the Japanese.

Lord Macartney’s mission to China 1793

Opium War 1839–1842

The Opium War (1839--1842) demonstrated the superiority of British firepower and military tactics (including the use of a shallow-draft steamboat that effectively harassed Chinese coastal defenses). British warships destroyed Chinese coastal and river forts and seized the offshore island of Chusan, not far from the mouth of the Yangtze River. When a British fleet sailed virtually unopposed up the Yangtze to Nanjing and cut off the supply of ‘‘tribute grain’’ from southern ...

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FILM & HISTORY Khartoum (1966)

by Mitch on January 2, 2012 0 Comments

General Charles Gordon (Charlton Heston) astride his camel in Khartoum, Sudan

The tragic mission of General Charles ‘‘Chinese’’ Gordon to Khartoum in 1884 was one of the most dramatic news stories of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Gordon had already become renowned in his native Great Britain for his successful efforts to bring an end to the practice of slavery in North Africa. He had also attracted attention for helping the Manchu Empire suppress the Taiping Rebellion in China in the 1860s. But the Khartoum affair not only marked the tragic culmination of his storied career but also symbolized in broader terms the epic struggle in Britain between advocates and opponents of imperial expansion. The battle for Khartoum thus became an object lesson in modern British history.


Proponents of British imperial expansion argued that the country must project its power in the Nile River valley to protect the ...

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